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Inoue survives knockdown, KOs Nery to retain undisputed 122-pound title


All hail "The Monster."

Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue dazzled again in his first defense of the undisputed junior featherweight championship, knocking out Luis Nery at the 1:22 mark of the sixth round Monday at Tokyo Dome in front of more than 50,000 fans.

Inoue sent Nery into the ropes with a lightning-quick combination, punctuated by a right hand. It was his third knockdown of the fight, pushing the referee to wave off the bout.

Inoue had to overcome the first knockdown of his career to remain undisputed, as Nery dropped the champion less than two minutes into the contest with a left hand. Nery, who entered as around a 7-1 underdog, pressured Inoue in the final minute of the opening frame, landing punches.

Inoue returned the favor in the second round, briefly dropping Nery with a left hook. The 31-year-old turned things up in the third and was in complete control by the fourth, letting his hands fly and even showboating by turning away from Nery. Inoue knocked Nery down again with a left hook in the fifth round before putting him away minutes later.

The victory lifts Inoue's professional boxing record to 27-0 with 24 knockouts, and he's now won three straight fights at 122 pounds. Inoue knocked out Stephen Fulton last July to capture the WBC and WBO junior featherweight titles in his divisional debut and knocked out Marlon Tapales last December to add the other two belts to his mantle.

Inoue, who previously held the undisputed bantamweight championship, joined Terence Crawford as the only two male boxers to win undisputed titles in two divisions during the four-belt era. Crawford and Inoue are widely considered the Nos. 1 and 2 pound-for-pound boxers in the world, respectively.

Inoue will now turn his attention to a potential title defense against Australia's Sam Goodman, who shook hands with Inoue in the ring after Monday's fight. Goodman is the No. 1 contender with the WBO and IBF. Inoue teased that he could fight Goodman in September.

Nery's four-fight winning streak ended as he suffered the second defeat of his 37-fight pro career. The 29-year-old Mexican is a former WBC junior featherweight and bantamweight champion.

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